Let's jump right in to another aspect of creativity. If you are regularly involved in the act of creating, at some point you will most likely have to face being stuck. There are many great sources out there with suggestions for what do when this happens. I'd like to talk about one way to get past a creative block. And that is by focusing on the process of being creative, rather than producing a particular product.
Allow me to explain:
We all get stuck for a variety of reasons:
1.feel like you're out of ideas for subject matter, or just not inspired by anything at the moment. (Sigh.)
2. have lots of ideas but get stuck on where to start. (Grrr!)
3. have a started project that isn't coming out like you planned in your head. (Aargh!)
4. be comparing yourself to others, and feeling like your work is not good enough. (Been there and done that. Repeatedly.)
Remember all of my examples about children and their creative, pretend play? Well, I recently discovered that they get stuck too sometimes. This layout tells the story of how, one evening, Sam kept trying to start playing with his action figures, but he had some trouble. He said, "Every time I start to play, it doesn't go anywhere." I know the feeling, kid. I really do.
Process Not Product
To begin talking about what I mean by focusing on the process, let's do what I do every work day, and go back to preschool.
When talking about art In the world of early childhood education, the phrase "process over product" is used frequently. Often, the end product of a small child's painting, is lots of paint sloshed all around the paper. It might not look that exciting. But when you get to see how it was created, it's a whole other story. Maybe the child was covered to his elbows in paint, thoughtfully covering every inch of white space. Or perhaps, while painting the child narrated an entire story (or two, or three). Or, before getting to a big, muddy mess of brown, he noticed the different colors mixing together, and exclaimed, "Look! I made orange!! I made purple!!" And in that one paper covered in paint, so much learning and growth took place.
So, here's my advice to you, fellow crafters. Rather than thinking about whether one particular project looks good or bad in the end, think about the fact that this is one piece in your entire creative life. And on this day, at this time, this is where you are in the process of being creative. But it is not where you will always be. And as long as you keep creating, you have an alomost infinite amount of opportunities to keep experimenting, improving, and building on what you already know.
A few years ago, I made a layout about just this topic.
And to illustrate the point that we grow and change as artists, I made this layout that documents how my relationship to writing and journaling has changed over the years.
This week, asI was planning this post, I rediscovered a children's book, that seems to perfect to share here. I also will probably not be able to write about it without getting a little teary. The Dot is about a young girl, who, with an empty sheet of paper at the end of art class declares to her teacher, "I just CAN'T draw!" Her teacher tells her to simply make a mark on her paper. Angrily, she jabs her marker to make one dot on her page. "Now, sign it, please" says her teacher. When the girl arrives next time, there is her dot, framed and hung up on the wall. When she sees that, the girl proceeds to paint dots of different sizes, and colors, and when the school art show rolls around, there is a wall full of her paintings.
The moral of the story is, make something. Anything. See where it takes you.
You can also take a look back, and see where you have been.